Bob McPhail 6:31 a.m., May 19
There was once a time when people cared about things of true value. This is how you will be set up if you read the introduction to the dinner menu at Craft & Commerce. Not-so coincidentally, that is how you were just set up as you read this blog post. Put simply, Craft & Commerce introduces you to their vision by shooting down the direction our society has taken in regards to commodities and mass production. Their goal is to show people, through their food, drinks, and craft, that it is time they demand good and quality products. Craft & Commerce supports local farm and breweries as well as craft breweries and craft spirits from around the world while rejecting any mass produced goods.
Craft & Commerce is located in the heart of Little Italy in San Diego. You will feel like you are stepping back in time (or maybe just stepping into your grandparents house) when you enter the restaurant. The walls are lined with bookshelves full with old books, knick knacks and so many stuffed country critters that it would make any taxidermist feel at home. The staff are all dressed in plaid shirts, suspenders, and even some in bowler hats. Don’t let the get-ups fool you, these people care so much about their craft that it doesn’t sound proper to call the staff behind the bar “bartenders” or “mixologists”. “Elixer Alchemists” is more fitting. We just made that up.
If you cannot decide what you want to drink, ask your “Elixer Alchemist” to customize a drink for you. Don’t be ashamed; they love doing it. It will be a short game of 20 questions as they ask you what liquor flavors you enjoy, what drinks you usually prefer, and even what vegetables you like. Before you know it, they will have concocted a beverage tailored to your refined taste. There is one catch to their cocktail craft; they do not serve vodka what-so-ever. Don’t even ask as you may be offended by their response. They only serve liquor and food with great flavor. In fact, if you are a vodka enthusiast, don’t walk towards the restrooms. If you do agree with Craft & Commerce, then you might be amused by their creative “Absolut Hype” wallpaper plastered on the walls.
Craft & Commerce’s menu features creative takes on American cuisine including smoked ribs, bacon cracker jacks, buttermilk biscuits, fried pickles, pastrami sandwiches, broiled oysters, mini corn dogs, and fried chicken. Their baked Mac and Cheese is made with aged cheddar, roasted garlic beech mushrooms, and lemon zest. The “Devils on Horseback” appetizer is a trio of bacon-wrapped bites including bacon-wrapped cheddar-stuffed dates, bacon-wrapped asparagus and garlic, and even a mini bacon-wrapped apple-bleu cheese-mushroom sandwich. Can’t get enough bacon? End your meal with a house-made ice cream sandwich complete with candied bacon.
It’s easy to see why the staff of Craft & Commerce are so proud of their craft. It shows in the quality and flavors of their food as well as the amount of work they put in to their craft cocktails. In their menu introduction they state “if the streets are quiet enough, and if you are listening closely, you will hear the voice of the people in a unified, steady resonance. You will hear them call for change. You will hear them call for good.” All you need to do is walk by Craft & Commerce in Little Italy and you will definitely hear the call for good, even though it may not be exactly unified. It may be hard to get a table, but it’s worth the wait. Especially if you love bacon and hate vodka.